Grown in a “Trug”, an elevated garden bed. With my back, I couldn’t garden without it.
Grown in a “Trug”, an elevated garden bed. With my back, I couldn’t garden without it.
I want to write about many and varied things and I want a name to reflect that. While I will continue to write about lesbian essentialism, I will also be writing about life, the universe, and everything.
When I first approached Wittig’s work, I didn’t realise just how disturbed this woman really was. She is the author of a book called “The Lesbian Body”. One would think that a book with such a title and supposedly written by a lesbian would be a book that Lesbians would find interesting, useful or perhaps even cathartic. But no, this book is fucking sick. Honestly, it actually reminds me of descriptions I’ve read of the corpses of Jack The Ripper victims.
Yes, I understand that art is meant to shock, but this has our name on it, this is supposedly an account or representation of not only our physical bodies, but the product of a lesbian mind. There is nothing lesbian about it.
I’ll let these passages speak for themselves:
Clearly this came from a very troubled mind, most likely from the mind of a person who was a victim of child sexual abuse. There is nothing Lesbian about this book at all, and yet it carries our name.
Now, as for her academic writing, I agree with her that Lesbians are not “women” in the heterosexual sense of the term. But my reasoning is VERY different to Wittig’s. For a start, she does not refer to Lesbians as a distinct biological group. In fact, she even denies biological differences between men and women!!! She refers to Lesbians as “lesbian society” as if we are merely a group of women who have chosen to reject men as some kind of feminist cause. This is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! The following is the first page of Wittig’s essay “One is Not Born a Woman” (1981).
What she fails to grasp, what all “lesbian feminists” who are not biological lesbians fail to grasp, is that straight women are a distinct biological group who participate in their own patriarchal oppression because of their own biological nature. Lesbians are different, not by choice but because we have a different nature to straight women due to our homosexual orientation.
She goes on to refer to “lesbianism” as a choice, and something one can become.
This erases the very existence of biological lesbians by appropriating our name in order to establish a supposedly “feminist” movement. What we, biological lesbians, MUST do is refuse to put up with these lies, we must not allow our name to be used as a feminist banner because it promotes lies that undermine our ability to understand and to name our own very existence!!! Straight women are born straight whether they choose to reject men and sleep with women or not. Action does NOT change biological orientation!!!
So, why does Wittig and similar “lesbian feminists” take our name and abuse it’s meaning for their own feminist cause?? Well, I suspect that it is because for them, identifying as being “Lesbians” is viewed as a way out, as an escape from abuse at the hands of men, and from the straight male and straight female dichotomy. Ironically, while the majority of these women have suffered at the hands of male sexual violence, they refuse to recognise that male biology is different to female biology and instead blame society and culture. I understand that this may be tempting because it gives them hope that men in the future may behave better, BUT it simply isn’t true and I point to the history of humanity as my proof. Study history and anthropology and tell me that you honestly believe that men and women are the same. Tell me that you think that patriarchal societies developed around the world simultaneously without heterosexual human biology being the root cause. Feminist social constructionism gives straight women hope that men will one day stop raping and killing them, it shields them from reality.
I suspect (though I don’t know) that Wittig (like many straight women who identify as being “lesbians”) was a victim of child sexual abuse. For these women, “Lesbian” seems to be a way of taking back power and gives them a sense of purification. While I can empathise and feel compassion for women who have been abused, I can’t stand by and allow them to continue to describe themselves as “lesbians” because it is a misrepresentation that does real harm to actual biological lesbians. We are not them and they are not us, yet because they use our name, “lesbianism” has been, and still is, viewed as a pathology resulting from CSA. This is extremely damaging, not only because it gives a false impression about what we are to straight people, but it also has an impact upon our own understanding of who and what we are, it takes away from us our ability to understand our own lesbian nature. It is the ultimate erasure because it implies that we do not actually exist, that we are somehow broken heterosexuals rather than the biological lesbians that we really are.
Firstly, we don’t call having sex, having “lesbian sex”, we just call it sex.
Now, for as long as straight people have been writing about and portraying supposed sex between “lesbians”, they have been misrepresenting us. This includes pornography, movies, books, academia, and especially straight people who “identify” as “lesbian” and write under our name. There are many lies being perpetrated, even by the supposed “lesbian” media. (AfterEllen and Diva, I’m looking at YOU).
There is only one thing that defines “lesbian sex” and that is sex involving one or more lesbians. Yes, I count masturbation as sex. Many lesbians will have sex with straight women, I’m not sure whether to define that as “lesbian sex” or not. I have never had sex with a straight woman so I don’t really feel qualified to make that call. What do you think readers?
The following is a list of things that straight people claim about “lesbian sex”.
I rarely have the overwhelming urge to write. So many other things going on in my head, in my life. The anxiety that always envelops my love of words, of expressing myself and utilising their magic power.
That is it though, the power of the written word, anything with power that is within my control fills me with fear. I image ways in which I fuck up, I hurt, I look bad. I run from the responsibility of using words wisely, of not being shamed in front of the muses.
Cowering in fear is no life. I learned that when I was very young and I was brave enough to seek and find the life I wanted.
So no, I won’t cower from words, I will use them as my tools.
We have so much to say, so many lies to unravel, and there is truth to be told.
We need to use words to speak the truth against those who use them to peddle lies.
Their sick, twisted, faux lives haunt the real, they leave their mark upon us, staining our name with their heterosexuality, their performativity. Lies, lies, lies…
Still, there is truth in a name, and the truth must be told. But do we have the language? Millenia, for as long as humans have walked the earth, we have spoken their languages, used their words, I’m using them right now… I’m thinking in their words and words have concepts attached and meanings which they dicktate. Yes, “dick” -tate, but I’m not talking only about men, this is not a discussion of female oppression or lesbian oppression, but of our very existence, living within the heterosexual norm, the great majority of breeding, dick worshiping hets who can’t see past their own biological drives.
They are not our masters and we will use their tools to restore and polish our own, then we will fashion new ones and through this process dismantle their hetsplaining lies.
I have already written about the meaning of Butch and Femme, so I won’t focus too much on that. But what I want to say that both terms are used by others who are NOT us, and as a result the meaning has become bastardised.
I’m going to ignore any uses of “Butch” and “Femme” by Men. It’s very obviously not Lesbian and has nothing to do with us.
With the birth of lesbian feminism, radical feminist “lesbian” (NOT!!!) academics such as Adrienne Rich and Sheila Jeffreys have published vile of anti-Butch/Femme hetsplaining bullshit which I won’t quote here because to do so I’d have to read over their shit myself and I really don’t want to do so. Suffice to say, they are dead WRONG!!!
However there is, arguably, a bigger problem and that is other lesbians appropriating or maligning Butch/Femme.
If you do a search for “butch lesbian” on many internet forums/blogs/social media sites/lesbian (supposedly) websites, what you find are pictures of Dapper Dykes who play-act hyper-stylised pseudo-masculinity (see below).
Why do some dykes do this? Well, in this heterocentric and hetero-gendered world it’s perfectly understandable, especially for those who are dating or want to date straight/bi women. For dykes who enjoy the style, good luck to them! But, it doesn’t make them butch.
The truth is that NO lesbians is masculine because we are all female; and NO Lesbian is feminine, because we are homosexual. We don’t perform for men, think about men, act in ways that we think will please men. That is what femininity is, and that is NOT what Lesbians do.
Lesbians, including Butch/Femme, exist outside the heterosexual construct that is “gender”. We are neither masculine nor feminine. Butches don’t perform masculinity FULL STOP!!!
So, with Dapper Dykes and Straight/Bi women calling themselves Butch/Femme, is it any wonder that some lesbians look at that misrepresentation and think that Butches and Femmes are merely gender role-players? That we don’t actually exist as our authentic selves, but are a mimic of heterosexual relationships? Of course, if they had ever met us and spent any time with us, they would know that we are FAR from that. However, we are rare, and many of us avoid lesbian gatherings because we are so misunderstood.
So, what are we? We are Lesbians types, we are born Butch/Femme, we are an aspect of Lesbian biology, and we are VERY real. We do not spend our lives pretending to be straight people and we are neither masculine nor feminine. We just are. A Butch does not choose to be a Butch and a Femme does not choose to be a Femme. We are not chosen “identities” with rules that we live by. We are just being our normal Butch or Femme lesbian selves. FULL STOP END OF STORY!!!!
A recent question, from a Lesbian (I couldn’t believe it!!) on twitter asked a Femme friend of mine if she would find her Butch wife attractive if she wore skirts/heels/eye liner etc. Now I really wanted to answer this question in detail, not for my friend, but as if the question had been asked of me, so here is my answer:
CLOTHES DON’T MAKE A BUTCH OR A FEMME. WE DRESS ACCORDING TO OUR BUTCH/FEMME NATURE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!!!
So, why is preserving our name so important to us? Well, if we loose the language to describe ourselves, it effects our sense of identity; the consequences of which include confusion, low self-esteem, and alienation. We already suffer from feelings of alienation because we live in a heterocentric world and for Butches this manifests in painful dysphoria. Even though Dykes who try to emulate masculinity are more likely to transition than butches, having other lesbians misrepresent butch/femme increases our sense of alienation and for Butches, it increases dysphoria. What is the current treatment medical treatment for dysphoria? Transition.
So please, lesbians who are reading this, don’t appropriate or misrepresent us; and Butches and Femmes who are reading this, be true to yourselves and stand up for the true meaning of our names.
The problem with depression is that I lose incentive. One minute I will be excited about doing a blog post and have lots to say, the next I will talk myself out of it and feel so tired I don’t think I will ever write another word again,
I am hoping to write some posts, or maybe one large post, on Sappho and the erasure of Lesbian history. I want to write it in an academic style, it will be the Sappho essay I always wanted to write as a student, but I stopped myself from saying what I wanted to say, what needs to be said.
So, while I can’t promise to post anything soon because I don’t know if or when I’ll have the mental or physical energy to write, but I will try.
For now I’ll leave you with a translation (not mine) of one of my favourite fragments. It is taken from this site, if you want to explore some more of her lyrics (yes lyrics, they were meant to be sung).
. . . honestly I wish I were dead.
She wept as she was leaving me,
shedding many tears, and said to me:
“Oh, what terrible unhappiness is ours!
Sappho, I swear I’m leaving you against my will.”
And to her I made this answer:
“Go, and fare well, and remember me,
for you know how we cared for you.
If not, why then I want
to remind you . . .
. . . and the happiness we had.
Many the wreaths of violets,
of roses and crocuses together . . .
. . . you put on beside me,
many woven garlands,
fashioned from flowers,
you put around your tender neck;
with much costly perfume
fit for a queen
you anointed yourself,
and on soft beds . . .
. . . tender . . .
… you assuaged your longing….
There was neither . . .
. . . nor shrine . . .
from which we were absent,
no grove . . . or dance . . .”